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Embracing the Raw Beauty: The Allure of Untanned Leather in Fashion

Untanned leather, also known as raw or unfinished leather, has been gaining attention in the fashion world for its unique characteristics and sustainable appeal.

In this guide, we delve into the world of untanned leather, exploring its uses in fashion, its defining features, and its growing popularity among designers and consumers alike.

Untanned Leather Definition and Distinctive Qualities

Untanned leather, as the name suggests, refers to leather that has not undergone the tanning process, which is essential for turning raw animal hides into the familiar leather material used in various products.

Unlike tanned leather, which is processed to be more durable, flexible, and resistant to decay, untanned leather retains its natural state, offering a rustic and organic aesthetic.

Untanned Leather

So what is untanned leather? Its raw and unrefined appearance sets it apart, making it a favorite among those who appreciate the beauty of imperfection. Similar, to the Hermes Orange color for Leather.

Untanned leather, also known as rawhide, isn’t very common in fashion due to a few reasons.

  1. Durability: Untanned leather is stiff and can crack easily. It’s also susceptible to moisture and can deteriorate quickly if not treated properly. For garments that need to last, this is a big drawback.
  2. Comfort: Rawhide is not very comfortable to wear. It’s rigid and can irritate the skin.
  3. Odor: Untreated hides can have a strong odor.

However, there are some niche applications for untanned leather in fashion. For example, some designers have experimented with using it for avant-garde or deconstructed pieces.

It can also be used to make certain types of accessories, such as drumheads or bags that are meant to have a rustic look.

More commonly, leather used in fashion goes through a tanning process This process treats the hides with chemicals or natural tannins to make them more durable, supple, and resistant to moisture and decay. Tanned leather is also easier to dye and finish, which gives designers more creative freedom.

Here are some of the different types of tanned leather used in fashion:

  • Vegetable-tanned leather: This type of leather is tanned using natural tannins from plants. It is a more eco-friendly option than chrome-tanned leather, but it is also less durable.
  • Chrome-tanned leather: This is the most common type of leather used in fashion. It is tanned using chromium sulfate, which makes the leather very durable and water-resistant. However, the chromium tanning process can be harmful to the environment.
  • Suede: Suede is the underside of the leather skin. It has a soft, napped finish that is very popular for jackets, shoes, and bags.

Why is it becoming a trend in the UK?

Untanned Leather

While there isn’t widespread adoption of untanned leather in UK fashion yet, there might be a few reasons why there’s growing interest:

  • Sustainability concerns: Traditional tanning uses chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Untanned leather could be seen as a more sustainable alternative, appealing to eco-conscious consumers.
  • Unique aesthetic: The natural variations and imperfections of untanned leather can create a one-of-a-kind, rustic look that some find desirable.
  • Niche appeal: Untanned leather might be used by avant-garde designers or smaller, sustainable brands looking for unique materials.

It’s important to note that untanned leather’s drawbacks (stiffness, odor, etc.) still pose challenges for widespread use in clothing. However, developments in treating untanned leather to improve its properties could see it become more viable in the future.

For now, it seems the trend for untanned leather in the UK fashion scene is likely focused on niche applications and sustainability-driven experimentation by a specific segment of the market.

Untanned Leather in Fashion: From Shoes to Belts

One of the most notable uses of untanned leather in fashion is in footwear. A shoe of untanned leather exudes a rugged charm and character that is hard to replicate with processed leather.

The natural grain and texture of untanned leather add depth and dimension to shoe designs, creating a distinctively rustic look that appeals to both men and women. Whether it’s a classic pair of boots or casual loafers, untanned leather shoes make a statement while offering comfort and durability.

In addition to footwear, untanned leather is also utilized in the creation of belts. Untanned leather belts are prized for their authenticity and simplicity. They often feature minimalistic designs that let the natural beauty of the leather shine through. From casual jeans to formal attire, an untanned leather belt or even an untanned leather wallet adds a touch of rugged elegance to any outfit, making them a versatile accessory for both men and women.

Untanned Leather: A Puzzle of Possibilities

For those unfamiliar with the term, untanned leather may seem like a mystery. In fact, it has even appeared as a crossword clue, prompting curious minds to uncover its meaning.

In the world of fashion, however, untanned leather is anything but puzzling. It represents a return to basics, a celebration of nature’s raw beauty, and a commitment to sustainable style.

The Growing Appeal of Untanned Leather

Untanned Leather

As consumers become increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions, the demand for sustainable and ethically sourced materials has grown.

Untanned leather aligns with this shift towards eco-friendly fashion, offering a renewable and biodegradable alternative to synthetic materials. By choosing untanned leather products, consumers can support responsible production practices and reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing style or quality.

Where to find Untanned Leather in the UK

Even though untanned leather isn’t mainstream, some suppliers in the UK cater to leathercraft enthusiasts. Here are a few stores you can try:

  • J Wood Leathers Ltd: They sell various grades of vegetable-tanned leather, which is the closest option to untanned leather.
  • A & A Crack & Sons: Another supplier of vegetable-tanned leather with a range of colours and sizes.
  • Leather4craft: Offers high-quality leather for crafts, which might include vegetable-tanned options.

Remember, since this isn’t commonly requested material, it’s always a good idea to contact the shop directly to confirm they have untanned leather in stock before you visit.


Untanned leather holds a unique place in the world of fashion, thanks to its raw beauty, versatility, and sustainable appeal. From shoes to belts and beyond, untanned leather products offer a timeless elegance that resonates with those who appreciate authenticity and craftsmanship.

As the fashion industry continues to prioritize sustainability, untanned leather is poised to remain a staple material for designers and consumers seeking style with a conscience

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